Scripture To Consider:
“Now while they [Jesus and His disciples] were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.’ And they [the disciples] were exceedingly sorrowful.” Matthew 17.22-23

Something To Consider:
For the last time Jesus is about to visit Capernaum. While He lingers in northern Galilee one great theme occupies His thoughts and His teachings. It is His death which He is soon to suffer at Jerusalem. He has spoken of it before, and with increasing definiteness; here, however, He uses a novel phrase, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him.”

The word betrayed suggests such treachery as that of Judas. This betrayal Jesus clearly foresaw, and it added bitter drops to His cup of coming suffering. More probably the word here refers to the handing over of Jesus to the Roman authorities to be crucified; however, there may be even an actual surrendering of the Son by the Father for the redemption or ransom of the world.

It may be an echo of that sacred message spoken by Jesus Himself in John 3.16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Certain it is, that Jesus never regarded His death as a mere incident in His career, or as an experience which other men might share. His death was unique! He declared it to be a ransom for many, and for the remission of sins. As before, He had expressed the divine necessity by saying that He must go to Jerusalem and be killed.

So, now, He may be reassuring Himself of the divine purpose as He speaks of being betrayed into the hands of men. Human nature indelibly marks us if betrayal has been our own experience. In essence, betrayal can usually only be truly forgiven in and through what Jesus has accomplished in His death and in full acceptance of the spiritual ransom that has been arranged for our benefit.

Otherwise, betrayal against us could easily destroy us if not forgiven and left at the foot of the cross of Christ. And that is indeed something to be considered a must do, according to Jesus and His faithful example preserved for us in His written Word. And yet, it does not make forgiving the betrayer an easy care-free thing to do. But it remains a must do or else our sins are not to be forgiven according to God’s Word.

However, the death of Christ is not set forth as an isolated event. Rather, Jesus unites it with another event, from which it is inseparable, namely His resurrection, by Him declaring, “And the third day He will be raised up.” His predictions were not the gloomy foreboding of a human martyr, but the clear anticipations of a divine Savior.

Therefore, Jesus sees the necessity for His atoning death, but also the certainty of His resurrection victory. The cross is a fit symbol for much that is essential in our Christian faith, but it never should be allowed to hide the majestic form of the risen, glorified, and ascended King.

The disciples were exceedingly sorrowful. It was possibly the sorrow of sympathy and of devoted love; yet it was partly the sorrow of unbelief. They had begun to understand what Jesus meant by death, but the meaning of this being raised again, they could not conceive. So, too, our mourning should be radiated by the comfort born of the resurrection of Jesus Christ that we sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope.

More Scripture To Consider:
“And when they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?’ Peter said, ‘Yes.’ And when Peter had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their own sons or from strangers?’

“Peter said to Him, ‘From strangers.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened his mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.’” Matthew 17.24-27

Something Else To Consider:
This incident is to be found in no other gospel. Here it properly belongs. This is the gospel of the King, and this striking recount is the story of a King. It includes a royal claim, a royal concession, and a royal command. Jesus had just been teaching His disciples concerning His divine Person and His atoning work. Peter had confessed Jesus to be the Son of God. As they return to Capernaum, Peter was asked whether His Master would pay the half shekel which was required of every Israelite as an annual tax for the support of the temple worship. Peter immediately replied, “Yes.”

Was it, however, so simple a question? Was He, who in the hearing of Peter the One who had claimed to be greater than the temple, to submit to the demands of the temple? Was He, whom Peter confessed to be the Son of God, compelled to support the house of God? Was He, who came to give His life a ransom for many, to pay the ransom money, as it was called, which the Jewish ritual required? That is something else to consider!

Peter evidently began to feel a little uneasy in his own mind; and as soon as he came into the presence of his Lord, he sought to vindicate himself. But Jesus anticipated him with a definite rebuke, as He claimed exemption from the tax. It was a royal claim and was embodied in a brief parable: “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their own sons or from strangers?”

And when Peter said from strangers, Jesus said unto him, “Then the sons are free.” The meaning is perfectly plain. Jesus claimed to be the divine Son of God, and as the Son of God He declared that He need pay no tribute to support the worship of God. What a claim! Was it not blasphemy unless it was true?

Then followed a royal concession, “Nevertheless, lest we offend them…” Thus, Jesus was careful to avoid needless offense. The people of Capernaum did not understand that He was the Son of God. Had Jesus refused to pay that simple temple tax, He would have been regarded as irreligious and possibly profane. With a graceful kingly condescension Jesus waived His royal rights for the moment. Yet, those who knew Him to be the Son of God needed to know that He was not rescinding His claim to royalty.

Peter needed to know on what ground Jesus would pay the tax; and the followers of Jesus today need to be reminded, not only of the divine claims of Christ, but of His example as He warned them not always to insist upon their rights, but also with princely generosity to yield their rights when otherwise they might be misunderstood and may cause needless offense.

Lastly, Jesus gave a royal command, “Go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” That promised miracle must have made its peculiar appeal to the old fisherman, Simon Peter; but it has its message for every follower of Christ since.

Who but Jesus could have given such a command? Surely this must be the divine King who has dominion over whatsoever passes through the paths of the sea. Note too, that closing touch, “Take that and give it to them for Me and you.” Peter could not claim to be the Son of God; he needed a ransom for his soul. Such a ransom we all need; and it has been provided for us graciously by our divine King, Jesus.

Our ransom has been arranged by One who though He was in the beginning with God, and though He was God, and though He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know or did not recognize Him, and His own did not receive Him; He was willing in total obedience to His heavenly Father’s perfect will, to become the ransom for many.

Something More To Consider:
Jesus could not be any clearer concerning His predicting again His death. After He spoke about mustard seed faith being able to move mountains, Jesus announced the mountain-like death He must face instead of moving it out of the way. In the midst of His closest followers He declared, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And as could be expected, His disciples were extremely sorry at His words.

In short, Jesus revealed three distinct events that brought about sorrow among His early disciples. First, that Jesus was to be delivered into the hands of His enemies by means of betrayal. Remembering the cruel treatment of John the Baptist and other saintly prophets by their enemies certainly created much sorrow in the hearts and minds of Jesus’ first century early followers.

Second, Jesus was to be killed by those same enemies. This revelation predicted by Jesus certainly caused confusion in the minds and hearts of His disciples, so much so, that the human sorrow overwhelmed any anticipation of joy that might have been experienced after hearing the third and final event predicted by Jesus.

And the third event according to Jesus, was that on the third day after His death He would be raised up to life again. For us, two thousand years removed, the news of Jesus rising from the dead causes us to celebrate that resurrection every year in the spring. But, for a hand full of sorrow filled early followers of Jesus, these words of future comfort, hope, and victorious glory fell short of their intended goal.

A Few Final Words:
Though Jesus was indeed predicting again His death at the hands of His enemies, He was also declaring that our ransom for sin was being arranged and was to end in glorious overcoming resurrection style victory prepared for a King. In time, these grieving for the moment, hand chosen, future spiritual ambassadors, who appear to be sorrowful now, will reach the ends of the earth with the Good News of Christ’s resurrection and His securing a ransom for many.

Therefore, our own ransom was arranged in advance, even while we were yet sinners and enemies of God, Jesus, and all that was and is good and godly. How then, could anyone ever consider returning to a life of sin and again becoming an enemy of Jesus? Let us instead rejoice that our own undeserved ransom has been paid in full and has forever been divinely arranged!

In Closing:
There is coming in the not-so-distant future, a predicted by Jesus, Paul, and other prophetic scribes of this continuing New Testament era, a departing from the faith betrayal of Christ and of end time 21st century followers of Christ and followers of His written and preserved Word. Therefore, there is a massive falling away from true biblical Christianity that is even now in the works. It may be due to God’s promising to send a strong delusion in 2 Thessalonians 2.11, but it is coming, or it is already here.

This departing from the truth is because of the coming of the lawless one, according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, why? According to the apostle Paul in verse 10 of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, “Because they [those deceived by Satan and the coming lawless one Antichrist, Satan’s end time earthly representative] because they did not receive the love of the truth [of the written and preserved Word of God], that they [those deceived] that they should believe the lie.” The truth is that our ransom has been arranged and secured by the love of God in and through Christ Jesus!

Let’s Pray:
Our Father in heaven, thank You that Jesus was able to rightly predict in advance His atoning and sacrificial death. Thank You that the Word of God also in advance predicted the method and gruesome death of Jesus, the Messiah, by a cruel death upon the cross in Psalm 22 that begins with the words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? And yet, Jesus fulfilled His predestined and divine mission upon planet earth. May we Father, do no less than what Jesus was willing to do. In Him Always, Amen!

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